By Reverend Paul N. Papas II
May 30, 2016
There is a common phrase that says,’ the more things change, the more they remain the same’. Frankly, it is not always true.
Growing up I would see a full flag holder attached to each parking meter in the downtown area for Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, and July 4th. We had a parade on Memorial Day and July 3rd that ended up at the park where the Fireworks display usually ended too soon in a big flourish. People from all over the town came together over these very patriotic events. No matter their backgrounds or political beliefs, we were all Americans first.
This patriotic environment instilled a pride in being American. Something inside is stirred me upon seeing rows of American Flags line the streets.
At that time people who served in elective or appointed offices generally had the idea that it was a duty and honor to serve in a position for a period of time then return to private life, following the example of George Washington in declining to seek a third term as President.
In his Farwell address Washington sought to convince the American people that his service was no longer necessary by, once again, as he had in his first inaugural address, telling them that he truly believed he was never qualified to be president and, if he accomplished anything during his presidency, it was as a result of their support and efforts to help the country survive and prosper. Despite his confidence that the country would survive without his leadership, Washington used the majority of the letter to offer advice as a “parting friend” on what he believed were the greatest threats to the destruction of the nation.
While I served in different positions the patriotic lessons and the examples of many who served before me who never thought holding a political office was a career path.
Republicans and Democrats had differences of course however we did not have emails, faxes, text messages, and few had caller ID on their phones. We actually talked, either in person or on the phone, and found a path to resolve issues.
If there was a message that needed to be disturbed around town it went by way of telephone or printed flyer that was delivered to every home in town. We had a typewriter and a print shop on standby. Phones were dumb, you either dialed on a Rotary Dial or had a Touch Tone Phone, no apps. George Washington had much less than that during his twenty years of service.
Those years saw many improvements especially in the areas of helping those less fortunate and those suffering from a mental illness. As with any request or requests for improvements we asked the questions: ’What if it were me or a family member of mine?’ and is this something that a church or private business should be handling? In a way, we were libertarian in not wanting government involved in every aspect of life.
We had a limited amount of revenue and the budget had to be balanced with respect to Police, Fire, Schools, various other services budgets while maintaining roads and town property.
You can liken the attitude of a public servant leader to that of a member of the military, he or she serves for a set numbers of years then goes back into private life. The difference between the two is; members of the military are well aware that they may be coming home in a casket. Either way the servant leader or a member of the military zeal to serve was no less diminished.
One area of improvement recognizing and treating what at one time was known as shell shock. Today PTSD is recognized as one the treatable issues first responders, victims or witnesses of abuse or tragedy can suffer in the same manner as a combat veteran can experience. Today self education and education of loved ones can greatly enhance the PTSD suffers recovery.
Yes, I miss having servant leaders in office who offer a portion of their lives to help make this a better place to live, instead of career politicians. Yes, hope springs eternal that we have not seen the last of the two thousand year old concept of servant leaders. May we look closely and choose wisely as the sanity we may save may be our own.
WASHINGTON’S FAREWELL ADDRESS
Just A Common Soldier
Memorial Day: Why We Remember
Star Spangled Banner As You’ve Never Heard It
image from Sacredtouches.com